53. Message From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1

Hakto 25. Please pass the following message to the President:

Today’s session with DRV was a genuine working meeting, in which we appear to have made some progress towards an understanding.2 Le Duc Tho was in the mood for straight talk and went through the various items which were tabled in a generally constructive way.
He tabled a draft communiqué and a ceasefire order which were written in extreme terms; but he backed off them in the give and take. I can now see the possibility of making a bridge between his opening position and ours. This will mean the probable emergence of a document which may lead to an enforcement of a ceasefire in South Vietnam, a precise date for a Laos withdrawal, but nothing concrete on Cambodia.
On ceasefire I think we are close to agreement with Saigon. However, I will meet with their representatives tomorrow to try to pin this down. One of the features of the DRV proposal which I find interesting is their willingness to have Two Party teams stationed at points on the boundary of the zones of control to be defined for each side. I interpret this to mean that they are giving up (at least temporarily) their effort to use their teams for political purposes. This could mean a willingness to accept a sort of internal partition in South Vietnam. In fact, one of their people described it today as “just like Panmunjom.”
Tomorrow we will adjourn the plenary talks. A drafting session led by Sullivan and Thach will attempt to produce an agreed document from the papers now on the table. The primary stumbling block I see in this is still Cambodia. Le Duc Tho continues to claim that he cannot control that situation. However, Sullivan will hang tough on that issue and I will give it one more try on Monday when the plenaries resume.3
As of now, I feel it is possible we can produce a paper by Tuesday which we will be able to define as a restoration of the basic Paris Agreement.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 35, HAK Trip Files, Paris Trip, May 1973, HAKTO 1–46. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only; Immediate.
  2. Kissinger and Le Duc Tho met at La Fontaine au Blanc, St. Nom la Breteche, Paris, May 19, 3:12–7:25 p.m. A memorandum of conversation with the attached Memorandum of Understanding is ibid., Box 114, Country Files, Far East, Vietnam, Paris Memcons, May 17–23, 1973.
  3. May 21. See Document 55.